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Let’s Start Creating Texture!

In this lesson, you’ll see how the initial surface will affect the accretion layers as I introduce the dry brush accretion encaustic painting method.

If you have a question or comment you can add it at the bottom of the page.

This is lesson 3 in the Encaustic Accretion course. It is set as open for anyone to view, the rest of the lessons in the course are for registered students only. If you aren’t enrolled, you can purchase the full course until December 31st for the Early Bird Rate of $57 CAD.


Encaustic Accretion – Let’s start creating texture
ac·cre·tion – əˈkrēSH(ə)n is the process of growth by a gradual buildup of layers
The molten wax starts to cool on your brush. And as you drag it across the painting surface brushstrokes are going to get left behind. As you repeat that process, the wax is going to start building up in the texture that was left by the previous brush strokes. Fusing will reheat the wax and ensure that it adheres well to the substrate and previous painting layers. If you fuse gently, the texture of the brush strokes will remain.

2. Base Layers
So let me explain what I mean. This is just an old panel that I’ve scraped off and I’m repurposing it…and I’m going to add several layers of the mud wax. The natural tendency of wax is to create texture. So, if you’re wanting to build up texture and you don’t care to control the pattern, you can just start with what the brush gives you. I have a good layer of wax on here and I haven’t fused yet.

3. Fusing Tools
If I fuse with a torch I need to fuse very gently or I’m going to lose texture. If I fuse with an iron, I’m going to smooth this out. But if I fuse gently with an embossing hot air tool, I can maintain that texture. Let me show you what I mean.

I’m going to fuse over here with the torch and I’m going to over fuse—I’m going to actually liquify the medium. If you get the wax so hot that it becomes molten, that’s going to get rid of texture. And if I use an iron, I’m going to end up with a really smooth surface. The iron is going to push the texture down and flatten it out. So, I recommend fusing with the embossing tool.

4. Controlling the Pattern
I usually begin with a very smooth surface that I’ve ironed. That’s because I want to control the accretion pattern myself. Any texture that is on your panel at the start will affect the accretion composition. You can start like this with random brush marks, or you can incise into the wax to control the pattern. You can experiment with different tools to vary the marks.

5. Dry Brush
The key to encaustic accretion is a dry brush. Dip your brush into the encaustic medium and drag the brush along the edge of the tin to remove the excess medium. Give it a shake allowing any drips to fall. Before brushing onto your painting surface, wave the brush around and allow it to cool. If you fuse gently the texture of the brush strokes will remain. And with each subsequent layer, the wax accumulates on the high spots.

6. Remove Brush Hairs
Before fusing, scan for brush hairs. Take your tweezers and pull out the hairs.

7. Fuse
And now I’ll give it a fuse with the embossing hot air tool.

8. Filling incised line
Earlier I incised this line and I’m now going to fill it with some encaustic paint. And I’m going to scrape back. So this is going to create a smooth area on the painting. So if I want to re-establish that texture around the line, I can then use a carving tool or a needle tooI and go back in and create some lines so when I do additional accretion it will build up on those lines. I’ll just fuse that line and then I’ll add some more accretion layers on top.

9. Golden Medium
Let’s use some golden medium.

10. Fusing With A Torch
As I mentioned in the last lesson, if you don’t have an embossing tool or if you’re working larger you can use the Iwatani butane torch. I’m going to adjust the flame. I don’t want a tight flame—I want it wide open for a softer flame. And I’m just going to kiss very gently the surface of the painting. Get rid of all the brush hairs. And that works just fine as long as you don’t over-fuse and liquefy the medium.

11. Cool – Work on Multiple Paintings
So this might be a good place to stop for now.
When you do accretion it’s important that your painting doesn’t become too hot. Every so often you will need to take a break to allow the texture to cool. When the texture is too hot, you’ll risk of brushing the fragile bumps clear off the surface. Working on two panels at a time is a good idea. I’m going to set this aside and get another painting to work on. Rotating which painting you’re working on will allow for cooling time.

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